Friday, August 15, 2014

The Wild Animal Sanctuary at Keenesburg Colorado

The Wild Animal Sanctuary is a 720-acre  animal sanctuary located near Keenesburg Colorado.

The sanctuary specializes in rescuing and caring for large predators which are being ill-treated, for which their owners can no longer care, or which might otherwise be euthanized.It is a  nonprofit organization and a state and federally licensed zoological facility.

Created in 1980, The Wild Animal Sanctuary is situated on grassland North of Denver and has helped over 1,000 animals since it first opened. As of 2012, it was home to over 290 animals.

We'd heard of the wild life sanctuary for years but as is common, we'd not been to the place so near to where we'd been living. The thing is, this is a sanctuary and not a zoo. Hard maybe to see the difference... but... the idea is, as I see it, to give these once abused, rescued, captive animals a decent place to live out their days in relative peace... rather than being entertainment for people.

I'd not call it a Picturesque spot... but considering the alternative for these critters... it's a pretty fair deal. Most of them are animals that were confiscated from people who held them as "pets" chained to trees in the back yard or penned in cages.

Some were held in horse trailers for years! or the garage... what can I say... if you want to experience what was done to these animals... try living in a closet for a month...want it more real? Have someone come and beat you with a bat because you're not "gentle enough"... yeah... shiny.

One novel sort of thing here is that you're up above their fields on an elevated walkway...

From the entry center and gift shop area you walk up a ramp at the start of the mile long elevated walkway... The theory is; These animals don't have any natural threats that come from above... so if you're up there... they don't notice you... you're not "in their space"... and so stress is lessened.

They also request very clearly, no running, squealing, throwing things to the animals etc. It's all set up to, as much as possible, reduce/eliminate the stresses of captivity for these animals.

*Entry ramp up onto the walk way*

*Looking back toward the Visitor center and the Socialization building*
Most of these animals were kept in solitary situations and had never even seen another of their kind, before they were brought here. Consequence is they haven't a clue how to get along with each other...

Compound that with the space... Most were held in cramped, closed cages for years. Simply simply having this much space is a shock they need to adjust to... They need time...

Sooooo...

*Wild Animal Sanctuary "Socialization Building*
What they do is start them out in smaller enclosures, with neighbors on the other side of the separating fences... over time they "buddy up" with a neighbor... at which time the keepers/volunteers will move them in together... their solitary lives are expanded in as normal a way as is possible...



... as they gain "social skills" they are turned out into the "group" enclosures that run from ten to twenty acres a piece. For an animal that's spent it's entire life chained alone to a tree, that must seem like heaven.










One lil bit I thought kind of hilarious was; They warn you in a short little introduction, that if you drop your camera, your phone or whatever... off the walkway... it's gone... they won't and can't go get it... sooooo...

*look for the red arrow...*
 yeah... OOPS!


"But Mom! I NEED a new I-phone! The lions got my OLD ONE!!!" Bwahahahahaha



The place is primarily a rescuer of  Lions and Tigers and Bears... though there are a few foxes and quite a few grey wolves.

There are some folks that think wolves make good pets... as nutso an idea as having a Tiger in your garage... or any of a myriad of other abuses of wild critters.

Yeah... they think that right up until that cute "pup" matures at around two years old and his aggressiveness as he attempts to climb the social ladder becomes frightening and dangerous...

Then... the fools think; "I'll just turn them loose in the mountains... where the totally unprepared (he never had his folks to teach him how to hunt) and also now unafraid of people critter... starves to death... or is shot attacking livestock.

Better... is when they are confiscated and placed into sanctuaries like this across the country... that also work to try and educate people regarding the cruelty and reality of attempting to keep wildlife in your basement...

The bears here are Blacks and Grizzlies. As you drive in you pass a large enclosure with several Grizzlies that doesn't yet have a walkway... on the walkway itself you stroll over a good number of black bears... and at least a pair of Grizzlies...



























For shelter from both the hot summers and cold winters they've built some rather ingenious underground dens for the animals out in the open areas...



Those concrete culvert openings run about 60' back in, and then open up into a 6X12X6 concrete den. They appear to be, from a picture I saw, a septic tank overturned... It works! ;)

For the visitors they've got a couple of shady areas to sit and have a pic nic lunch or snack...

*Covered area near a Bear Pool*




Out at the far end is a Lion House... with a snack bar...





*Run Jillian RUN!*

You can have a snack and chill out...while the lions serenade you...

video

Like I said... it's not all landscaped and pretty. They pretty much run on a shoestring... but it's pretty cool to see animals that have been abused and alone... able to have some freedom and peace to live out their days in a decent and peaceful place...

So... when you visit along the front range... pack a pic nik snack and pay 'em a visit out by Keenesburg...  I'd suggest you go late... we got there 'bout 5 in the evening or a bit later... The animals are moving around a lot more as the prairie starts to cool off at the end of the day... oh... and leave your dogs at home ;)

Just movin' along
Brian

5 comments:

Tinabeane said...

Thanks Brian! I've added this to my list of things to see in CO. So true about never getting times to see places in your own backyard.

Enjoy the weekend,

Tina

Maya said...

I love The Wild Animal Sanctuary! Good educational post. I have to disagree though, this place is in a beautiful spot. You have a great view of the Rocky Mountains, and the plains stretch for miles out there. The views from the walkway are amazing.

Brian said...

Maya; I didn't mean to come across that it was "ugly" or some such... just don't want to mislead anyone into thinking it's some sort of a landscaped garden of some kind.

For the lions and such it's much more natural I would think... for a lot of the bears pretty much the same... Grizzlies used to populate these plains pretty heavily!

And it's not a "Zoo" where things are set up for the viewing public. Here the primary emphasis is very much more on the comfort and well being of the critters.

That walk way I think does what it was intended. The animals truly seem to not notice you above them at all... another stress reducer for them.

It is in deed the Colorado Plains with long views and far country which is beautiful in my eyes.

Maya said...

I understand. It's true that zoos have much fancier landscaping. I'm glad that they put their money into building the walkway, where people can view the animals without bothering them.

MTWaggin said...

What an AMAZING place and the animals look so very peaceful and well cared for. Such a blessing to find places like this to help those animals that only had contact with "stupid humans" before. Heart the photo of Jillian - what a ham!